TRADITIONAL TRIP TO MADISON UP NEXT FOR BIG 8 SERIES

By: Clem Easterly

This Friday night, the Big 8 Late Model Series returns to one of it’s favorite stops through the years.

For the 17th time in Series history, the “Best Weekly Warriors in the Country” take to ‘Wisconsin’s Fastest Half Mile” for what has become an Independence Week tradition…the “Salute to America” at Madison International Speedway (MIS).

Friday night’s event marks the third of eight races on the 2017 Big 8 Late Model Series schedule, following April’s Spring Classic at Rockford Speedway and the “Clash at the Downs” at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids Iowa four weeks ago. Michael Bilderback won the season opener at Rockford in commanding fashion, while Minnesota’s Joe Neisius claimed his first ever Big 8 Series win at Hawkeye Downs one month ago.

Two races into the 2017 slate, Bilderback leads the standings, looking to become the first driver to win three consecutive Big 8 Late Model Series championships. Bilderback’s advantage in the standings is 27 points over 4-time Big 8 Series champion Jeremy Miller, who has been his usual consistent self to start the season. Miller has also been solid at Madison this year, leading the NASCAR Late Model points in pursuit of his sixth track championship at MIS. Miller is also the defending race winner of the “Salute to America,” winning last year’s caution-free 48 lap affair.

Other top Big 8 racers gunning for victory Friday night at MIS include Tim Sargent, the former Rockford Speedway champion, who’s started his season with a pair of top five finishes and currently ranks third in Big 8 Series points, eight points behind Miller for second and 35 points behind Bilderback for the points lead. Iowa’s Brody Willett has begun his Big 8 season strong as well, sitting fourth in points, just 69 points behind Bilderback. Other top Big 8 drivers attending Friday night’s ‘Salute to America’ include Wisconsin racers Jerry Mueller (6th in points) and Jake Zellmer (7th in points) along with Minnesota’s Ryan Kamish (8th in points) and Illinois’ Tyler Brown, the leading Loves Park Motorsports Rookie of the Year candidate who sits tenth in Series points.

Madison International Speedway will be well represented Friday night, with several track championships represented on the entry list. Beloit’s Bobby Wilberg is one of the titans of Madison International Speedway, with a combined 12 track championships through the years at his hometrack. Cottage Grove’s Zach Riddle not only has a distinguished family history at MIS, but is also a former track champion, taking top honors in the NASCAR Late Model division during the 2015 season. Both Wilberg and Riddle are aiming for their first Big 8 wins on their hometrack. Former ‘Salute to America’ winner and Madison ace John Baumeister Jr is also looking to pocket another Big 8 Series win Friday night at MIS.

Drivers from five states are expected for the 2017 edition of ‘Salute to America,’ and once again this season the Big 8 Late Model Series is joined by the Great Northern Sportsman Series and the Midwest Dash Series on the busy Friday night schedule. Race fans are also encouraged to hang around after the races for a HUGE Fireworks Display.

***MADISON CONSTRUCTION UPDATE***

If you’re making your first trip to Madison International Speedway this year, know that Road Construction is taking place on Interstate 90 near Stoughton. With this in mind, the following information has been passed along by the folks at Madison International Speedway…

The Highway 51 exit off I-90/39 is closed at Stoughton, fans/drivers will need to take Hwy 14 north/west out of Janesville towards Evansville (Exit 171, then turn left on 14). Fans/drivers will be able to bring 14 through Evansville and then north to Hwy 138 Oregon, take exit, at roundabout turn right (east), then approx 2 miles down road will be our sign with flags at Sunrise Road. Turn right on Sunrise and then the track will be on the left a mile down.

IMPORTANT: Your GPS will likely try to have you turn on Oak Hill off of Hwy 14 and there are green directional signs saying Madison International Speedway, the large toters and semis WILL NOT fit down Oak Hill, therefor they MUST go to Hwy 138.

Salute To America
Current Entries (as of Noon 6/29)

OO Brody Willett Alburnett, IA
O3 Cody Kippenhan Ypsilanti, MI
2 Michael Bilderback South Beloit, IL
3 Tyler Hromadka Brookfield, WI
5 Jeremy Miller Rockton, IL
14 Zach Riddle Cottage Grove, WI
15 Michael Clapper Dane, WI
19 John Baumeister Jr Beloit, WI
20 Tyler Brown Carol Stream, IL
21 Mike Lloyd Davis, IL
26 Tim Sargent South Beloit, IL
28 Bobby Wilberg Beloit, WI
42 Ryan Kamish Lakeville, MN
49 Jerry Mueller Richfield, WI
53 Jared Duda St Michael, MN
58 Tyler Kingery Prior Lake, MN
78 Matt Lundberg Rockton, IL
84 Jake Vanoskey Hartford, WI
87 Brent Edmunds Monticello, WI
99 Jake Zellmer Muskego, WI

EVENT DETAILS:

What: “Salute To America”
Where: Madison International Speedway (1122 Sunrise Road, Oregon, WI 53575)
When: Friday June 30

Schedule and Information:
3:30 PM- Pits Open
5 PM- Big 8 Series Practice Begins
6:15 PM- Big 8 Series Qualifying
7:30 PM- Racing Begins

Divisions Competing:
Big 8 Late Model Series (complete show highlighted by a 48 lap feature)
Great Northern Sportsman Series
Midwest Dash Series
Plus a HUGE Fireworks Display

Admission Prices:
Adults- $18
“Whelen Heroes” & Seniors- $16
Students (Ages 12-17)- $10.00
Children (Ages 6-11)- $5
Kids (Ages 5 & under)- FREE
Family Pricing (Two adults & up to four students and/or children)- $40

REMAINING 2017 BIG 8 LATE MODEL SERIES SCHEDULE:
Fri June 30- Salute to America (Madison International Speedway, Oregon WI)
Fri July 28- Larry Detjens Memorial Race (State Park Speedway, Wausau WI)
Tues Aug 1- Dixieland Delight (Wisconsin Int’l Raceway, Kaukauna WI)
Sat Sept 23- 9th Annual ‘Thunderstruck 93’ (Elko Speedway, Elko New Market, MN)
Sat Sept 30- 52nd Annual National Short Track Championships (Rockford Speedway)
Sat Oct 7- 48th Oktoberfest Race Weekend (La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway, West Salem, WI)

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Please visit www.big8series.com

WHILE RIVALS ‘CLASH,’ NEISIUS CLAIMS FIRST BIG 8 WIN AT ‘THE DOWNS’

Story By: Caleb Slouha
Photo By: Guy Adams

For the third time in series history, the Big 8 Late Model Series returned to Hawkeye Downs Friday night for “Clash at the Downs III” presented by McGrathAuto.com. And for a third straight time, fans in attendance saw a show they won’t soon forget.

Rosemount Minnesota’s Joe Neisius, along with inaugural ‘Clash at the Downs’ winner Caleb Adrian, started on the front row for the 48 lap feature. While Neisius held his ground early, Adrian was able to make the pass for the lead just three laps in.

Adrian held the lead unchallenged until last year’s event winner, Michael Bilderback, made his way forward to battle the leader. As the two battled side-by-side for multiple laps, Alburnett, Iowa’s Brody Willett stormed forward to meet them, looking for a piece of the front as well.

The laps clicked off as the three leaders jockeyed for the top positions. Bilderback eventually slipped back leaving Adrian and Willett to battle for the lead. Both Adrian and Willett have already captured weekly feature wins at Hawkeye Downs and have had their share of close calls already in the weekly series.

The battle for the lead continued to be strong, as neither driver backed out as lapped traffic occurred, going three-wide and making contact several times.

Finally, with seven laps to go, more contact was made, and for the second year in a row, Adrian found himself in the turn one wall. After the incident, Adrian drove his damaged car away, eventually pulling next to Willett and finally spun Willett on the backstretch under caution. Adrian was retired for the night, regulated to 25th place, while Willett would go to the tail end of the lead lap, finishing the race in tenth.

When the dust settled, Neisius came out above the chaos and was able to held off both Griffin McGrath and Bilderback to win the “Clash at the Downs”. Tim Sargent ended the race in fourth position, while Farmington Minnesota’s Ryan Kamish rounded out the top five.

“Clash at the Downs III” presented by McGrathAuto.com
Race Results

1. Joe Neisius Rosemount, MN
2. Griffin McGrath Cedar Rapids, IA
3. Michael Bilderback South Beloit, IL
4. Tim Sargent South Beloit, IL
5. Ryan Kamish Farmington, MN
6. Jeremy Miller Rockford, IL
7. Justin Neisius Eagan, MN
8. Brian Gibson Walford, IA
9. Wayne Freimund West Allis, WI
10. Brody Willett Alburnett, IA
11. Mark Lamoreaux Bloomington, MN
12. Brad Osborn Janesville, IA
13. Matt Lundberg Rockford, IL
14. Greg Borchardt Prior Lake, MN
15. Jacob Zellmer Burlington, WI
16. Jerry Mueller Richfield, WI
17. Scott Siems Cedar Rapids, IA
18. Tyler Brown Carol Stream, IL
19. Mike Lloyd Davis, IL
20. Mark Greb Coralville, IA
21. Jacob Vanoskey Hartford, WI
22. Jared Duda St Michael, MN
23. Chad Siems Shellsburg, IA
24. Tyler Hromadka Brookfield, WI
25. Caleb Adrian Walcott, IA
26. Tyler Kingery Prior Lake, MN
27. Cody Kippenhan Ypsilanti, MI

Preliminary Winners: C Siems, Mueller, Neisius, Adrian
Fast Qualifier: McGrath
Entries: 27 Big 8 Late Models

Current Big 8 Late Model Series Points
(Top 10)

1. Michael Bilderback 240
2. Jeremy Miller 213
3. Tim Sargent 205
4. Brody Willett 171
5. Wayne Freimund 149
6. Jerry Mueller 133
7. Jacob Zellmer 130
8. Ryan Kamish 128
9. Griffin McGrath 120
(TIE) Tyler Brown 120

6/2/2017 – Big 8 Series Hawkeye Downs Results

Big 8 Late Model Series
A-Main 01 — 1. Joe Neisius, Rosemount, Minn.; 2. Griffin McGrath, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; 3. Michael Bilderback, South Beloit; 4. Tim Sargent, South Beloit; 5. Ryan Kamish, Farmington, Minn.; 6. Jeremy Miller, Rockford; 7. Justin Neisius, Eagan, Minn.; 8. Brian Gibson, Walford, Iowa; 9. Wayne Freimund, West Allis, Wis; 10. Brody Willett, Alburnett, Iowa; 11. Mark Lamoreaux, Bloomington, Minn.; 12. Brad Osborn, Janesville, Iowa; 13. Matt Lundberg, Rockford; 14. Greg Borchardt, Prior Lake, Minn.; 15. Jacob Zellmer, Burlington, Wis; 16. Jerry Mueller, Richfield, Wis; 17. Scott Siems, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; 18. Tyler Brown, Carol Stream; 19. Mike Lloyd, Davis; 20. Siems, Shellsburg, Iowa; 24. Tyler Hromadka, Brookfield, Wis; 25. Caleb Adrian, Walcott, Iowa; 26. Tyler Kingery,
Prior Lake, Minn.; 27. Cody Kippenhan, Ypsilanti, Mich..

Heat 01 — 1. Chad Siems, Shellsburg, Iowa; 2. Mike Lloyd, Davis; 3. Scott Siems, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; 4. Jacob Zellmer, Burlington, Wis; 5. Jared Duda, St Michael, Minn.; 6. Tyler Hromadka, Brookfield, Wis; 7. Tyler Kingery,

Heat 02 — 1. Jerry Mueller, Richfield, Wis; 2. Matt Lundberg, Rockford; 3. Tyler Brown, Carol Stream; 4. Mark Greb, Coralville, Iowa; 5. Jacob Vanoskey, Hartford, Wis; 6. Cody Kippenhan, Ypsilanti, Mich..

Qualifying Dash 01 — 1. Joe Neisius, Rosemount, Minn.; 2. Ryan Kamish, Farmington, Minn.; 3. Brian Gibson, Walford, Iowa; 4. Griffin McGrath, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; 5. Justin Neisius, Eagan, Minn.; 6. Jeremy Miller, Rockford;

Qualifying Dash 02 — 1. Caleb Adrian, Walcott, Iowa; 2. Brad Osborn, Janesville, Iowa; 3. Greg Borchardt, Prior Lake, Minn.; 4. Brody Willett, Alburnett, Iowa; 5. Michael Bilderback, South Beloit; 6. Wayne Freimund, West Allis, Wis; 7. Mark Lamoreaux, Bloomington, Minn..

Time Trial — 1. Griffin McGrath, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; 2. Michael Bilderback, South Beloit; 3. Jeremy Miller, Rockford; 4. Brody Willett, Alburnett, Iowa; 5. Tim Sargent, South Beloit; 6. Brad Osborn, Janesville, Iowa; 7. Justin Neisius, Eagan, Minn.; 8. Caleb Adrian, Walcott, Iowa; 9. Brian Gibson, Walford, Iowa; 10. Mark
Lamoreaux, Bloomington, Minn.; 11. Joe Neisius, Rosemount, Minn.; 12. Greg Borchardt, Prior Lake, Minn.; 13. Ryan Kamish, Farmington, Minn.; 14. Wayne Freimund, West Allis, Wis; 15. Jacob Zellmer, Burlington, Wis; 16. Matt Lundberg, Rockford; 17. Mike Lloyd, Davis; 18. Mark Greb, Coralville, Iowa; 19. Chad Siems, Shellsburg, Iowa; 20. Jerry Mueller, Richfield, Wis; 21. Jared Duda, St Michael, Minn.; 22. Tyler Brown, Carol Stream; 23. Scott Siems, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; 24. Jacob Vanoskey, Hartford, Wis; 25. Tyler Kingery, Prior Lake, Minn.; 26.

BIG 8’S BEST READY TO ‘CLASH’ IN CEDAR RAPIDS

By: Kip Ripley

For the third time in history, the Big 8 Late Model Series is set to trek to eastern Iowa.

‘The Best Weekly Warriors in the Country’ return to Hawkeye Downs this Friday night June 2 for the ‘Clash at the Downs III’ presented by McGrathAuto.com. The event is the first for the Big 8 Late Model Series since its season opening ‘Spring Classic’ at Rockford Speedway back on April 23. On that day, two-time and defending Big 8 Late Model Series Champion Michael Bilderback was triumphant, leading most of the 88 lap feature en route his second straight win in the season-opening event.

Bilderback comes into Friday night’s ‘Clash at the Downs’ as a favorite once again, looking to get back to victory lane for a second straight year at Hawkeye Downs. Last June, it was Bilderback getting the best of Inaugural ‘Clash at the Downs’ winner Caleb Adrian in a wild last-lap exchange, which saw Adrian end his evening against the turn one wall. Still stinging from that loss one year later, Adrian is locked and loaded to get back in the winners circle Friday night and has already tasted victory twice at Hawkeye Downs in 2017.

Another driver who has found success early in 2017 is Brody Willett. The teenager from Alburnett Iowa has pocketed a Friday night feature win at Hawkeye Downs already this season and was also a Top 10 finisher at Rockford Speedway during Spring Classic. Willett comes into ‘Clash at the Downs’ with momentum and is primed to pick up his first career Big 8 Series win, will that landmark win come at his hometrack?

A talented group of local favorites await the Big 8’s best this weekend in Iowa, including Former Hawkeye Downs track champions Brian Gibson and Brad Osborn, as well as Cedar Rapids native and Late Model ace Griffin McGrath. Ready to challenge the home team are the likes of four-time Big 8 Late Model Series champion Jeremy Miller, former Rockford Speedway track champion Tim Sargent and former Slinger Speedway champion Wayne Freimund. They’ll be joined by names like 2016 Madison International Speedway Rookie of the Year Matt Lundberg, Wisconsin’s Jake Vanoskey, veteran Illinois racer Mike Lloyd and Michigan resident Cody Kippenhan plus young up-and-comers like Jake Zellmer, Tyler Hromadka, Tyler Kingery, Jared Duda and Tyler Brown.

‘Clash at the Downs III’ presented by McGrathAuto.com
Expected Entries (24)
As of May 31

OO Brody Willett Alburnett, IA
O3 Cody Kippenhan Ypsilanti, MI
2 Michael Bilderback South Beloit, IL
3 Tyler Hromadka Brookfield, WI
5 Jeremy Miller Rockford, IL
15 Michael Clapper Dane, WI
17 Brian Gibson Walford, IA
20 Tyler Brown Carol Stream, IL
21 Mike Lloyd Davis, IL
26 Tim Sargent South Beloit, IL
29 Caleb Adrian Walcott, IA
43 Scott Siems Cedar Rapids, IA
49 Jerry Mueller Richfield, WI
53 Jared Duda St Michael, MN
58 Tyler Kingery Prior Lake, MN
64 Griffin McGrath Cedar Rapids, IA
71 Mark Greb Coralville, IA
72 Brad Osborn Janesville, IA
75 Joe Neisius Rosemount, MN
76 Chad Siems Shellsburg, IA
78 Matt Lundberg Rockton, IL
84 Jake Vanoskey Hartford, WI
95 Wayne Freimund West Allis, WI
99 Jake Zellmer New Berlin, WI

EVENT DETAILS:

What: “Clash at the Downs III” presented by McGrathAuto.com
Where: Hawkeye Downs (4400 6th St SW Cedar Rapids, IA 52404)
When: Friday June 2
Schedule and Information:
3 PM- Pits Open
4:30 PM- Big 8 Series Practice Begins
5:30 PM- Grandstands Open
6 PM- Big 8 Series Qualifying
7:30 PM- Racing Begins

Divisions Competing:
Big 8 Late Model Series (complete show highlighted by a 48 lap feature)
Mountain Dew Sportsman
Dublin City Pub Legends
Anderson Automotive Hobby Stocks
Miller Time Hornets

Admission Prices:
Adults (18+) and Seniors (62 +) $12
Students (ages 9-17): $7
Kids 8 & under FREE

REMAINING 2017 BIG 8 LATE MODEL SERIES SCHEDULE:
Fri June 2- ‘Clash at the Downs III” presented by McGrathAuto.com (Hawkeye Downs, Cedar Rapids, IA)
Fri June 30- Salute to America (Madison International Speedway, Oregon WI)
Fri July 28- Larry Detjens Memorial Race (State Park Speedway, Wausau WI)
Tues Aug 1- Dixieland Delight (Wisconsin Int’l Raceway, Kaukauna WI)
Sat Sept 23- 9th Annual ‘Thunderstruck 93’ (Elko Speedway, Elko New Market, MN)
Sat Sept 30- 52nd Annual National Short Track Championships (Rockford Speedway)
Sat Oct 7- 48th Oktoberfest Race Weekend (La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway, West Salem, WI)

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Please visit www.big8series.com

BILDERBACK LEAVES LITTLE DOUBT AT 40th ANNIVERSARY SPRING CLASSIC

By: Eric Huenefeld

Over the course of the last two-plus seasons, Michael Bilderback has been the ‘man to beat’ in Big 8 Late Model Series competition.

Whether racing along the Big 8 Series or at the Rockford Speedway on Saturday nights, the South Beloit native has stood in victory lane as frequently as anyone since the beginning of the 2015 racing season.

On Sunday afternoon, Bilderback collected his ninth career Big 8 Late Model Series win and seventeenth Late Model victory since the start of 2015 after being the dominant car during the running of the 40th Anniversary Spring Classic at Rockford Speedway.

Bilderback, who started from the third position, quickly moved on outside pole sitter Mike Lloyd to take first place on lap four of the 88 lap main event. But then, just two laps later, the caution flag flew for fluid on the track, which was spotted dropping from Ryan Kamish’s car. After Kamish was sent to the pits, the field bunched up for the first restart of the day, which resulted in another yellow just three laps later when both Lloyd and Casey Johnson came into contact off the fourth corner, sending Lloyd spinning. Both cars were sent to the tail after the incident. Lloyd later retired from the race on lap 53, while Johnson fought back for a top five finish.

The largest calamity of the day occurred on lap 38, when a suspension breakage sent Tyler Kingery into Dennis Smith Jr’s car as the two drivers entered turn one. Both cars contacted the wall, collecting John Beinlich and Michael Clapper along the way. After the four cars piled up, Smith’s car was engulfed in flames. Smith quickly emerged from his car as safety crews worked to extinguish the inferno. All drivers were ok. While the rest of the field was stopped on track during red flag conditions, Kyle Shear’s car also caught fire. Shear would have to be towed to the pits after the fire exploded his right front tire, but his crew was able to make repairs and return him to the race, where he would finish seventh place, one lap down.

When the remainder of the field took the green flag with 50 laps to go, the race never stopped again as Bilderback put enough cushion between himself and second place Jeremy Miller to maintain a comfy advantage until the checkered flag. When the race concluded, it was Bilderback besting Miller by 1.79 seconds on his way to victory. Tim Sargent started his season off with a sold third place finish, while former Spring Classic champion Alex Papini came home in fourth after holding off a hard charge from Casey Johnson, who settled for fifth following his climb back through the field after the lap 9 incident with Lloyd. Kyle Chwala finished as the last car on the lead lap in sixth.

40th ANNIVERSARY SPRING CLASSIC

OFFICIAL RESULTS

1 Michael Bilderback South Beloit, IL (88 laps)

2 Jeremy Miller Rockford, IL (88 laps)

3 Tim Sargent South Beloit, IL (88 laps)

4 Alex Papini Machesney Park, IL (88 laps)

5 Casey Johnson Edgerton, WI (88 laps)

6 Kyle Chwala Johnson Creek, WI (88 laps)

7 Kyle Shear Roscoe, IL (87 laps)

8 Brody Willett Alburnett, IA (87 laps)

9 Wayne Freimund Elkhorn, WI (87 laps)

10 Jake Zellmer New Berlin, WI (87 laps)

11 Jerry Mueller Richfield, WI (87 laps)

12 Jake Vanoskey Hartford, WI (87 laps)

13 Tyler Brown Carol Stream, IL (85 laps)

14 Cody Kippenhan Ypsilanti, MI (83 laps)

15 Jared Duda St Michael, MN (83 laps)

16 Tyler Hromadka Brookfield, WI (82 laps)

17 Jeff Wakeman Streator, IL (80 laps)

18 Mike Lloyd Davis, IL (53 laps)

19 Steve Rubeck Rockford, IL (41 laps)

20 Dennis Smith Jr South Beloit, IL (38 laps)

21 John Beinlich Cary, IL (38 laps)

22 Michael Clapper Dane, WI (38 laps)

23 Tyler Kingery Prior Lake, MN (37 laps)

24 Max Kahler Caledonia, IL (31 laps)

25 Jon Reynolds Jr Loves Park, IL (21 laps)

26 Ryan Kamish Lakeville, MN (6 laps)

Preliminary Race Winners: Vanoskey, Clapper, Reynolds, Lloyd

Fast Time: Bilderback 13.503 (*New Big 8 Track Record)

Entries: 27 Big 8 Late Models

CHAMPIONS, CHALLENGERS, YOUTH AND EXPERIENCE DOT SPRING CLASSIC ROSTER

By: Eric Huenefeld

The opening event of any season brings optimism, excitement and intrigue.

This Sunday’s 40th Anniversary Spring Classic at Rockford Speedway most certainly fits the above description.

Going into the first race of the 2017 Big 8 Late Model Series season, there are certainly many different directions to look when searching for story lines.

Everything starts with Michael Bilderback. The two-time Big 8 Late Model Series champion and reigning Rockford Speedway champion comes into Sunday afternoon as the favorite to begin the season in victory lane. A win Sunday would be the second straight Spring Classic triumph for Bilderback and a third overall. Only Steve Carlson (6), Joe Shear (4) and Dick Trickle (4) have won more Spring Classics all-time. Bilderback, along with Mike Beyer, are the only Big 8 Series drivers to win multiple Spring Classics (2 each).

Right next to Bilderback on the list of favorites this weekend has to be Casey Johnson. The two-time Big 8 Late Model Series champion is looking to join Bilderback and Beyer as multi-time winners of the Big 8 Spring Classic. Rockford Speedway was kind to Johnson last fall, as the Edgerton Wisconsin resident became just the second driver in history to win both the Super Late Model and Big 8/Rockford Rules features in the same weekend at National Short Track Championships, a feat only matched by the aforementioned Joe Shear in 1987. A victory this weekend would be Johnson’s fourth Big 8 Series conquest at Rockford all-time.

Four-time Big 8 Late Model Series champion Jeremy Miller has done just about everything in a Big 8 car, except win Spring Classic. Miller, who has 11 Series wins in his career (tied for most all-time) has been notably close before at Spring Classic, finishing a close second to Mike Edhe in 2007 and dominating the 2012 Spring Classic until his car broke just past halfway, handing the lead and win to Jon Reynolds Jr. Reynolds is always a contender at Rockford and specializes in the distance races, making Sunday’s 88 lapper a race that’s right in the former Big 8 and Rockford champion’s wheelhouse. Five of Reynolds’ eleven career Big 8 Series wins have come at Rockford Speedway.

Other drivers to watch at Rockford include two-time Spring Classic champion Steve Rubeck, making his return to the Big 8-style cars in 2017. Rubeck is also a former Big 8 champion two-time National Short Track Champion who excels inside the tight confines of Rockford Speedway. Former Rockford Speedway champion Tim Sargent brings a new look to Spring Classic and is eyeing his first-ever Big 8 Series win, while fan-favorite Kyle Shear returns to Big 8 Series action this weekend, looking to improve upon his best Big 8 finish at Rockford, a third place run in 2012. Wayne Freimund, a two-time feature winner at Rockford last season, has gotten closer to Big 8 victory lane each year, will Sunday be the day he takes the step to the top of the podium?

A fleet of young racers will be vying for glory at this weekend’s Spring Classic, including Iowa’s Brody Willett, Wisconsin’s Braison Bennett and the Minnesota tandem of Jared Duda and Tyler Kingery. Teenager Tyler Hromadka brings a year’s worth of Rockford experience to the table this weekend, looking to break through with the “Best Weekly Warriors in the Country,” while another teenager, Max Kahler, makes his Big 8 debut at a track just 6 miles from his hometown of Caledonia Illinois.

40th Anniversary Spring Classic
Expected Entries (28)
As of April 19

OO Brody Willett Alburnett, IA
1 Steve Rubeck Rockford, IL
2 Michael Bilderback South Beloit, IL
O3 Cody Kippenhan Ypsilanti, MI
3 Tyler Hromadka Brookfield, WI
5 Casey Johnson Edgerton, WI
5 Todd Kamish Lakeville, MN
5 Jeremy Miller Rockford, IL
O8 Dennis Smith Jr South Beloit, IL
9 Braison Bennett Neenah, WI
X Jon Reynolds Jr Loves Park, IL
17 Max Kahler Caledonia, IL
18 Alex Papini Machesney Park, IL
20 Tyler Brown Carol Stream, IL
21 Mike Lloyd Davis, IL
22 Kyle Chwala Johnson Creek, WI
26 Tim Sargent South Beloit, IL
37 Kyle Shear Roscoe, IL
39 Matt Berger Loves Park, IL
49 Jerry Mueller Richfield, WI
53 Jared Duda St Michael, MN
58 Tyler Kingery Prior Lake, MN
74 Louie Goss Green Bay, WI
84 Jake Vanoskey Hartford, WI
91 Jeff Wakeman Streator, IL
93 John Beinlich Cary, IL
95 Wayne Freimund Elkhorn, WI
99 Jake Zellmer New Berlin, WI

EVENT DETAILS:

What: 40th Anniversary Spring Classic
Where: Rockford Speedway (located at 9572 Forest Hills Rd Loves Park, IL)
When: Sunday April 23
Schedule and Information:
7 AM- Pits Open, Breakfast in Pit Concession
8 AM- Chapel Service in South VIP Tower
8:45 AM- Big 8 Series Driver’s Meeting in Pit Stands
9:30 AM- Rotating Practice (until 11:25 AM)
11 AM- Front Gate Opens
11:30 AM- Qualifying (All divisions)
12:45 PM- Opening Ceremonies
1 PM- WE’RE RACING

Divisions Competing:
Big 8 Late Model Series (complete show highlighted by an 88 lap feature)
Quest Industrial Mid-American Stock Car Series (complete show highlighted by a 50 lap feature)
INEX Legends (complete show including a 20 lap feature)

Admission Prices:
Adults (ages 12 & up): $20
Children (ages 6-11): $6
Kids 5 & under: FREE

2017 BIG 8 LATE MODEL SERIES SCHEDULE:
Sun April 23- 40th Anniversary Spring Classic (Rockford Speedway, Loves Park IL)
Fri June 2- ‘Clash at the Downs III” presented by McGrathAuto.com (Hawkeye Downs, Cedar Rapids, IA)
Fri June 30- Salute to America (Madison International Speedway, Oregon WI)
Fri July 28- Larry Detjens Memorial Race (State Park Speedway, Wausau WI)
Tues Aug 1- Dixieland Delight (Wisconsin Int’l Raceway, Kaukauna WI)
Sat Sept 23- 9th Annual ‘Thunderstruck 93’ (Elko Speedway, Elko New Market, MN)
Sat Sept 30- 52nd Annual National Short Track Championships (Rockford Speedway)
Sat Oct 7- 48th Oktoberfest Race Weekend (La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway, West Salem, WI)

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Please visit www.big8series.com

ROCKFORD’S SPRING CLASSIC: A MIDWEST RACING TRADITION 40 YEARS AND COUNTING

By: Eric Huenefeld

Through the years, “big events” have come and gone. But for 40 years, Spring Classic has stood tall.

Ever since it’s inception at the beginning of 1978, this season-opening special event has signaled a new racing season for fans and drivers alike in the upper Midwest.

And in the Spring of 1980, Spring Classic found the facility that became its home, Rockford Speedway. Ever since then the beginning of the upper Midwest racing season truly hasn’t began until the Rockford Speedway and Spring Classic said so.

One thing that both the first Spring Classic and this year’s 40th installment have in common are the lateness for which they are scheduled. Although two Spring Classics have been run later in the year (1997 in June & 2002 in October, both due to weather), the 1978 and 2017 installments are the two Spring Classics originally scheduled latest. The inaugural event was contested on April 30 at Grundy County Speedway, with Dick Trickle collecting one of his four Spring Classic wins (more on that later). This year’s Spring Classic, set for April 23, is scheduled later due to the unusually late Easter holiday in 2017.

Following the first ever Spring Classic at Grundy County in 1978, the event shifted north to Capitol Super Speedway (now Madison International Speedway) in April of 1979, with Tom Reffner topping Trickle in a 50 lap sprint. The following year, the event shifted to Rockford Speedway for good, with the late Larry Detjens capturing the 80 lap main event.

From 1980 to 1990, Spring Classic’s were contested in distances equal to the year in which they were ran, meaning the the 1981 race was 81 laps, 1982’s race was 82 laps and so on. Another theme of the 80’s was dominance by three particular drivers; Joe Shear, Al Schill and Dick Trickle. From 1981 to 1989, Shear, Schill and Trickle were the only three men to pocket wins in the season opening affair. Shear garnered his Spring Classic wins in 1981, 86, 88 & 89, while Trickle was top dog in 1983, 84 & 87. Schill won his two Spring Classics in 1982 and 1985.

Speaking of multi-time winners, nine drivers have won two-or-more Spring Classics in their racing careers. Steve Carlson leads the all-time list with six Spring Classic wins (bagging six of seven Spring Classics from 1998-2004), Trickle & Shear have won four each, while Schill, Scott Hansen, Kevin Cywinski, Steve Rubeck, Mike Beyer and Michael Bilderback have won two Spring Classics each. Bilderback can join rarefied air with Carlson, Shear and Trickle this weekend if he can win his third Spring Classic, making him just one of four men to win the event three or more times. With a win, Bilderback would also become the all-time leading Big 8 Spring Classic winner, as both he and Beyer are the only two drivers to win multiple Big 8 Spring Classic races.

The Big 8 Late Model Series’ inclusion at Spring Classic began in the year 2005 as an under-card to the final NASCAR Midwest Series race held at Rockford Speedway. Beyer won that 58 lap event, then came back one year later and won the Big 8 portion of Spring Classic in 2006. In 2008, the Big 8 Late Model Series became the featured attraction of Spring Classic, with Michael Bilderback winning his first Big 8 Series race and in the process becoming the youngest Spring Classic winner of all time. Also in 2008, the Big 8 Spring Classic was extended from 58 laps to 108 laps. In 2015, the race was shorted to 88 laps, a call back to the event’s heyday back in the 80’s.

What history will be made this Sunday? Can Bilderback continue his recent Big 8 and Spring Classic dominance? Can someone like Casey Johnson or Jon Reynolds Jr become just the tenth driver to win multiple Spring Classics? Or will a new name be etched into history as a winner of Rockford Speedway’s Spring Classic? You better “BE THERE” this Sunday afternoon to find out!

The 40th Anniversary Spring Classic is set for this Sunday afternoon April 23 at Rockford Speedway (9572 Forest Hills Road, Loves Park IL). Spectator Gates open at 11 AM, with Qualifications set to begin at 11:30 and the first green flag at 1 PM. The afternoon racing card includes the Big 8 Late Model Series, the Quest Industrial Mid American Stock Car Series and the INEX Legends. Adult admission is $20, while Children ages 6-11 are $6 and Kids 5 & under are FREE!

For more information, please visit rockfordspeedway.com, big8series.com or call 815-633-1500.

40th ANNIVERSARY SPRING CLASSIC ENTRY FORM NOW ONLINE!

40th Spring Classic Schedule | Entry Form

By: Eric Huenefeld

With a long off-season in the rear view, it’s time to “Think Spring!”

The 40th Anniversary Spring Classic is five and a half weeks away, with this year’s installment scheduled for Sunday afternoon April 23 at Rockford Speedway. The Entry Form and Schedule of events are now available for viewing at big8series.com and rockfordspeedway.com.

For the tenth consecutive season, the Big 8 Late Model Series headlines Spring Classic. The “Best Weekly Warriors in the Country” run a full show Sunday April 23, complete with Time Trials, Preliminary Events and the 88 lap feature race. Also scheduled to appear on the Spring Classic card is the Mid-American Stock Car Series and the INEX Legends. The Mid-American Series is slated to run a 50 lap main event, while the Legends square off in a 20 lap affair.

Gates open on Sunday April 23 at 11 AM, with Qualifying for all three divisions beginning at 11:30 AM. The first green flag flies at 1 PM.

There are multiple chances for teams to get “on track” at Rockford Speedway for Practice in advance of Spring Classic. Saturday April 15 features an Open Practice session from 11 AM until 2:30 PM, while Spring Classic participants (Big 8 LM, Mid-Am & Legends) also have a chance to practice Saturday April 22 from Noon to 4 PM.

For additional information regarding the 40th Anniversary Spring Classic and Rockford Speedway, please visit www.rockfordspeedway.com or call 815-633-1500.

For more information on the Big 8 Late Model Series, please visit www.big8series.com.

BIG 8 LATE MODEL SERIES UNVEILS 2017 SCHEDULE

By: Eric Huenefeld

Big 8 Late Model Series officials have released their 2017 Schedule of Events, which includes eight individual racing events at seven facilities in four different states.

Again this season, the Big 8 Late Model Series takes part in some of the most well-known racing events held annually at some of the most storied short tracks in America.

The Big 8 Late Model Series begins its thirteenth season Sunday afternoon April 23 at Rockford (IL) Speedway as part of the 40th Anniversary Spring Classic. The day will be highlighted by an 88 lap feature race for the “Best Weekly Warriors in the Country,” with the Mid American Stock Car Series and Legends joining the Spring Classic card.

Following Spring Classic, the Big 8 Series returns to Iowa, for “Clash at the Downs III’ at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids on Friday June 2. Four weeks later (Friday June 30), the Series makes its traditional summertime stop at Madison (WI) International Speedway for the “Salute to America,” which includes a full racing program and a fabulous Fireworks display!

One month after the Madison event, the Big 8 Late Model Series contests two races in five days while taking part in two major mid-summer events. Friday July 28, the Series makes its return to State Park Speedway in Wausau WI, headlining the first night of the Larry Detjens Memorial Weekend. Then, Tuesday night August 1, the Big 8 Late Model Series shares the spotlight with the ARCA Midwest Tour as part of the “Dixieland 250,” with a 38 lap “Dixieland Delight” scheduled for the Big 8 Late Models.

The 2017 Big 8 Series champion once again will be determined by “three races in three weeks,” starting Saturday September 23 at Elko (MN) Speedway as part of the 9th Annual “Thunderstruck.” Then, Saturday night September 30, it’s the most grueling race of the season, the 108 lap National Short Track Championship as part of the 52nd National Short Track Championships at Rockford Speedway. Finally, on Saturday October 7, the season comes to a close at La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway in West Salem WI as part of the 48th Oktoberfest Race Weekend.

For more information on the Big 8 Late Model Series, please visit big8series.com.

For up-to-the-minute updates, please “Like” Big 8 Series on Facebook and “Follow” us on Twitter @big8series.

2017 BIG 8 LATE MODEL SERIES EVENT SCHEDULE

Sunday April 23 – “40th Anniversary Spring Classic” 88 Laps
Rockford Speedway (Loves Park, IL)

Friday June 2 – ”Clash at the Downs III” 48 Laps
Hawkeye Downs (Cedar Rapids, IA)

Friday June 30 – “Salute to America” 48 Laps
Madison Int’l Speedway (Oregon, WI)

Friday July 28 – “Larry Detjens Memorial” 58 Laps
State Park Speedway (Wausau, WI)

Tuesday August 1 – “Dixieland Delight” 38 Laps
Wisconsin Int’l Raceway (Kaukauna, WI)

Saturday September 23 – “Thunderstruck” 58 Laps
Elko Speedway (Elko New Market, MN)

Saturday September 30 – “52nd Nat’l Short Track Championships” 108 Laps
Rockford Speedway (Loves Park, IL)

Saturday October 7 – “Oktoberfest Race Weekend” 68 Laps
La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway (West Salem, WI)

2016 IN REVIEW: BILDERBACK JOINS ELITE COMPANY

By: Eric Huenefeld

As the twelfth season of Big 8 Late Model Series racing came to an end Saturday night at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway, Michael Bilderback once again etched his name in history as a Big 8 Series champion.

Bilderback’s 2016 was one of the more dominant championship seasons in the history of the Big 8 Series, as the 25 year old outdistanced his nearest competitor in the points by 167 markers while winning four of the eight races on the schedule.

Bilderback finished no worse than sixth in any Big 8 race, with an average finish of 2.375. Bilderback’s four wins on the tour tied him for fourth on the All-Time Big 8 Series wins list with Ross Kenseth (7), trailing only Jon Reynolds Jr (11), Jeremy Miller (11) and Casey Johnson (10).

This year’s Big 8 Late Model Series championship was second consecutive for the South Beloit Illinois resident, making him just the third driver in the history of the Series to win multiple championships, joining Jeremy Miller (2007, 08, 10 & 12) and Casey Johnson (2013 & 14). To go along with his success along the Big 8 tour in this year, Bilderback also earned his first Rockford Speedway Track Championship, winning four feature races at the high-banked quarter mile.

Lakeville Minnesota’s Michael Ostdiek had a stellar season on the Big 8 tour too, posting a second place finish in the final series standings. The 19 year old college sophomore racked up five Top Five finishes and his first ever Big 8 Late Model Series win in July at State Park Speedway in Wausau Wisconsin. Ostdiek’s steady efforts were just enough to hold off J Herbst for runner-up honors in the points chase. Herbst, the West Salem Wisconsin native, finished just one point behind Ostdiek in third. Herbst has a memorable season with Big 8 Late Model Series, earning two runner-up finishes and six Top Tens while also setting new Track Records at Hawkeye Downs in June and at State Park Speedway in July.

Four time Big 8 Late Model Series champion Jeremy Miller finished fourth in the 2016 points, with one win on the tour at Madison International Speedway in June. Elkhorn Wisconsin’s Wayne Freimund rounded out the top five in points, ninety points behind Miller. Freimund completed his most solid Big 8 season to date with a top five in points, highlighted by a fourth place finish at Rockford Speedway’s Spring Classic in April.

Fourteen year old Grant Griesbach not only finished the season sixth place in points, but also was the winner of the Loves Park Motorsports ‘Rookie of the Year’ Award. Griesbach, who ended the season just four points behind Freimund for fifth in points, collected three Top Ten finishes in 2016, with a seventh place at Spring Classic his best showing. Alburnett Iowa’s Brody Willett finished second in the Rookie chase, ninety-five points behind Griesbach.

2016 Big 8 Late Model Series “By The Numbers”…

-FIVE different drivers won Big 8 Series features in 2016 (Bilderback, Miller, Ostdiek, Johnson & Ty Majeski)
-FIVE states were represented among the Top Ten in final Big 8 Series points (Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan)
-SIX drivers officially competed at every Series event in 2016 (Bilderback, Ostdiek, Herbst, Griesbach, Willett & Tyler Hromadka)
-SEVEN track records fell in qualifying this year, meaning each track on the series saw their all-time record lowered
-ONE HUNDRED AND SEVEN drivers entered a Big 8 Late Model Series race in 2016

Big 8 Late Model Series
2016 Top Ten in Points

1. 2 Michael Bilderback 891
2. 18 Michael Ostdiek 724
3. 82 J Herbst 723
4. 5 Jeremy Miller 585
5. 95 Wayne Freimund 495
6. 17 Grant Griesbach 491
7. 54 Rich Schumann, Jr. 448
8. 3 Tyler Hromadka 399
9. 00 Brody Willett 396
10. 03 Cody Kippenhan 320